OCD: Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Possible Treatments

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Image: Envato Elements

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), ever heard of it? Whether never or a few details here and there, we’ve written everything you need to know about OCD in this post.

While getting your regular routine done or just sitting down quietly, you suddenly found yourself lost in thought for a long period of time.

You then eventually feel the need the carry out a particular act, only for you to realize you have done this same particular thing over a thousand times today and you still feel the urge to do it again just to relieve you of the persistent thought that occupied your mind.

If this is the case, then you may have OCD but don’t fret because you will discover the detailed explanation of OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder), causes of OCD, the several signs and symptoms that may indicate you truly have OCD and 6 tips that works on how to treat it naturally.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health disorder in which you uncontrollably think (obsessions) and behave (compulsions) or perform some routines repeatedly.

These thoughts or obsessions can be strong enough to interfere with your daily and normal activities and when you try to ignore them, it only leads to distress, fatigue and anxiety. You then eventually try to ease yourself by performing compulsive deeds to relief your stress but your thoughts keep coming back after your endeavors to stop it.

You may be aware of the fact that your obsessions and compulsions are unrealistic but you just cannot stop yourself from this OCD cycle.

If that is the case, you do not need to cringe anymore because today is your fortunate day for you will discover certain ways to get rid of obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD naturally.

What Are The Causes of OCD?

The exact cause of OCD is not fully known but there are certain claims that some factors play a role in the condition.

These factors include:

  • Genetics: Studies have shown that individuals with family members who have OCD also have higher chances of developing OCD. So you are more likely to have this disorder if any of your close relatives has it because of your genes.
  • Biological factors: Changes in the brain functions or the body chemistry may result to developing OCD.
  • Environmental factors: Certain environmental situations like abuse, illness, relationship matters, death of a loved one, work or school issues may lead to higher chances of developing the symptoms of OCD.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD

If you have OCD, you may either experience obsessive thoughts regularly or compulsive actions or even both. Some people experience one of the two while others experience both and this is the common case.

Obsessions include:

  • Unwanted thoughts that comes to your mind repeatedly
  • Fear of contamination by touching other things or fear of dirt
  • Need for preciseness, orderliness or symmetry
  • Aggressive thoughts or fear of causing harm to yourself or others
  • Fear of being embarrassed

Compulsions include:

  • Constant counting
  • Washing, showering, cleaning or bathing excessively
  • Repeatedly checking things such as doors to make sure they are locked, oven or stoves to ensure they are off.
  • Arranging things in a particular and precise way.
  • Continuous whispering of specific words, phrases or prayers.

NB: Although all habits are not obsessions and compulsions but if you are unable to control these thoughts and behaviors, you spend at least one hour a day on them, you don’t derive any pleasure at all but a feeling of relief from anxiety they cause and experience major problems in your day to day activities then you have OCD.

Medical/Clinical Treatment of OCD

Antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRI) are the medicines that are usually prescribed to patients with OCD.

The medicines are in tablets and capsule form. The several antidepressants approved by the FDA include fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine etc. They help you treat the symptoms of OCD by increasing the level of a chemical called serotonin in your brain.

It may take up to 12 weeks before you begin to notice improvement and some people may be treated for up to a year or more. The common side effects of these medications include dizziness, diarrhea, feeling agitated, headaches and low sex drives.

The use of this drug is not suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women. So if you’ll please consider using any of the natural treatments explained below.

6 OCD Natural Treatments That May Work

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

ocd treatment using therapy session
image: Envato Elements

Researches have proven that the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is by far a superior and effective form of treatment compared to all other forms of treatment.

Over 70% of patients with OCD are tremendously helped by cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy does not have any risks or side effects associated with it and this means you should greatly consider it as a big option for treating your OCD.

Good news about this treatment is the fact that you can be treated through cognitive behavioral therapy if you are pregnant. You can read more about the benefits of CBT for OCD in pregnancy.

For most people, CBT alone is the right remedy for OCD while in some individuals, CBT plus medication is the solution.

Unlike other traditional psychotherapy (discovered to have little impact on patients over the past 15 years) in which the patient’s problems and past are discussed, CBT involves the active participation of the patient and therapist in revealing the fundamental beliefs in the present moment. In other words, CBT is more interested in this present rather than the past.

CBT aims to help you change how you think, feel and behave because they lead to distress and increased anxiety.

It starts by fist listing out all your difficulties and symptoms in full details. The list is then used as a basic tool in form of CBT treatment known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) which is also called exposure therapy.

Starting from the least symptom, CBT aims to change the meaning you give to your intrusive thoughts, try new ways of thinking about them, which will in-turn help you change your reaction towards them.

The exposure therapy is often carried out for one hour or more in which you are exposed and asked to stay and face your symptom until your anxiety reduces. Although challenging, it is done in a gradual and supportive manner.

Once you are able to fully handle the least phase in a confident and overcoming way, you’ll then be ready to move to the next phase. It continues gradually until you have tackled all the items and symptoms on your list.

Full treatment may require 10 to 20 or even more sessions. So consult your therapist to know more about CBT.

2. Social Support

Therapy in Support Group
Therapy group, Image: Envato elements

Friends, families, colleagues, psychologists and professional therapist’s social support can play a vital role in helping a patient to overcome obsessive-compulsive disorder and prevent re-occurrence.

Social support means having family, friends and other people to turn to in times of crisis or need. Aside from the role it plays to deal with OCD, it is important for maintaining good physical and mental health.

It is known to reduce psychological and physiological implications of stress.

As an individual with OCD, you may often feel unhappy, depressed, anxious, isolated or embarrassed about your condition. Getting support and being around other people might just be very helpful in relieving your condition gradually.

If you don’t tell most people the challenges you are facing, there is no way they can help you with it.  You do not have to wait for people to make the first move before come into your life. So, find individuals you can reach out to, connect and interact with good people both offline and online, hang out with your families and friends and build long and beneficial relationships.

Social support will make you feel more secured, give you a sense of belonging, enhance your sense of self-worth and improve your condition.

3. Exercise

Stretching and exercising, Image: Envato elements

One of the wonderful ways to keep your OCD under control is regular exercising.

Why? This is because exercise is good for your mental health, physical health, it helps you get your mind to focus on other things, boosts your confidence, enhances your self-esteem, handle stress and reduce the symptoms of general anxiety disorder. Exercise also helps you reduce fatigue and improve alertness.

There are many evidences and proves that shows that exercise is very helpful and it is an important remedy for reducing the symptoms of OCD.

There are great benefits of exercise for you and other people with this condition and other forms of stress or anxiety.

Yoga, tai chi, walking, swimming, jogging or aerobic workouts 3 to 5 times a week for at least 20 minutes regularly can perform wonders when it comes to getting rid of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

4. Meditation

how to use meditation for OCD

Meditation is another integral way of naturally treating OCD because it significantly improves OCD symptoms within a short period of time. It doesn’t have any side effect and it is an effective method.

Meditation enable you get hold of your mind, control anxiety, control your thoughts, and eventually reduces the rate at which obsession, impulses and compulsion controls your mind.

It is important that you learn how to meditate in the right way that helps you treat OCD and improve your overall health.

Personally, I advise you enroll in a guided meditation class. It will help you learn meditation from an experienced teacher and help you get social support explained in number 2 tips that work.

5. Healthy Eating

stock soup

Your diet plays an important role in your general well being. To a significant extent, having a good diet will help you reduce anxiety and stress associated with OCD.

It is essential that you avoid certain unhealthy foods and drinks because they may help you reduce stress. Having a poor diet can lead to fatigue, moodiness and even weight gain.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid such as bananas and potatoes can be beneficial for you.

There are certain foods that enhance calmness. Include them in your diet too. Low-fat dairy products like milk and yogurt can do this for you.

  • Add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet for they are high sources of antioxidants. They’ll help you prevent overeating and promote fullness.
  • Include fish, nuts, whole grains in your daily diet.
  • Avoid excessive sugar because it leads to fatigue.
  • Refined carbohydrates, refined fats, processed snacks that contain high artificial additives can add to anxiety.

6. Abstinence from Caffeine and Alcohol

coffee may help you burn fat fast by increasing metabolism
Image: Rich Supplements

Although some people may get intermittent relief when they take alcohol, it still fails to get rid of their condition and can lead to addiction. So I see no reason why you should add to your conditions while trying to get rid of one.

The best thing you can do is to limit its intake and not depend on it as a cure but instead, allow your body system to fight against the symptoms on its own.

According to WebMD, drinks that contain caffeine can make stressful situation look more intense. This is a valid reason why you should gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you take daily until you can finally stop using it.

A sudden stoppage of caffeine intake can make concentration tough and cause headache.

Drinks such as Tea, Coffee, chocolate, and soda all contain caffeine .Consider taking non-caffeinated beverages instead. Green tea extract is a sweet example. Coupled with all of the tips aforementioned, you should be able to treat OCD naturally if you take the right steps.

Thoughts? Please share your feedback using the comment form below.


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